My Experience with Slabtown Customs Tiny Houses

Edit: The company is now known as Stewart’s Lumber Wood Product

On Tuesday, 1 May 2012, I headed gleefully up to the UPS store.  I had gone to USAA earlier that day to get a cashier’s check for $7,300, and I was ready to mail it.  That magic time had finally come – Jessica and I were ordering our tiny house!

I paid something ridiculous like $28 to send the check to Slabtown Customs in Arkansas, when I could have mailed it USPS Priority for $5.  But hey, this was the 50% deposit for our tiny house!  I needed to do anything and everything necessary to get that check to the builder ASAP so our house would be built!

Before I mailed that check

Jessica and I had a couple discussions with the owner of Slabtown Customs – Scott Stewart – before we mailed off the $7,300 deposit check.  We had seen his videos on YouTube, walk-throughs of houses he built.  They looked fantastic, and the customers seemed to be happy with what they got.

We made a few basic decisions about the floorplan, but we hadn’t decided on anything big, like the exterior siding, the roof, etc.  Scott was very good with talking me through the different options to make an educated decision.  Very communicative.

After I mailed that check

I came home from the UPS store beaming, saying to Jessica, “We did it!  We took the first step toward living in a tiny house!”  We were plenty excited, but we were even more excited to hear from Scott after receiving our check.

3.5 weeks went by, and we had still heard nothing from Scott.  He became completely unresponsive.  It didn’t help matters that just days after Jessica blogged about sealing the deal, she got multiple emails from different people with unpleasant stories of working with Slabtown Customs.  I said to Jessica, “We can’t believe everything we hear on the net; let’s just wait and see, yeah?”

We waited, but we got no message saying, “Thanks for the check!” or, “I got your check, and work will begin on X date.”

Words from others

Jessica was hearing from others that Scott was as much as 1 year late on delivery of their houses.  One woman claimed to have asked for her money back, and a year after their house’s due date, she still hadn’t received it all.  We also found this forum thread.

I don’t claim to know if any of the stories we heard were true, but they certainly made us much more uncomfortable when the next ‘event’ happened.

Proof?

I called Scott to ask him if he had received the $7,300 check and what the status of the house was.  Without answering those questions, he told me how his mother was in the hospital, and he was dedicating all of his energy to taking care of her.

Cool.  I don’t really care, but good for him!  (This couldn’t have been one of the unsolicited excuses others mentioned, could it?)  He then said the he just had the ‘structure’ of our Tiny House done.  [highlight]Naturally, I asked for pictures of the progress, since I didn’t feel like flying to Arkansas to look at it.[/highlight]  Scott told me there was really nothing to see, to which I asked, “What about the ‘structure’ you just mentioned?  Can you photograph that?”

He said he would by Monday (It was Saturday), and I went along my merry way.  When Wednesday rolled around, and I still hadn’t received any photos, I got worried.  I called him to ask what the hold-up was.

This time, he told me his father was terminal and in the hospital.  I wished him and his father well, and he said he would get the photos to me the next day.  (He later told me his father ‘got better’.  Divine Intervention!)

The runaround

When I gave Scott a full week to send photos and received none, Jessica and I decided it was time to call off this charade.  I emailed Scott to let him know that I wanted to amicably end our professional relationship and be refunded our deposit.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]Keep in mind, this was on June 1 – a month after submitting a $7,300 payment.[/box]

The only reason I wanted to cancel this deal was that Scott offered up to me that he had accomplished work on the house, yet he refused to send photographic proof of this work.  Scott kept saying that he needed to “find someone else to transfer our build to”, but he never even proved there was a build to begin with.

TL;DR – The middle, sucky part

I spent from 1 June 2012 – 1 August 2012 trying to get my money back.  Scott had a whole slew of excuses ready for me.  I had to involve the Better Business Bureau and the Arkansas State Attorney General (AG) to get real results.  The Arkansas AG was my real savior, though.

Each time I sent an email to Scott stating, “You still haven’t sent photos, so I have no proof you’ve even purchased any materials,” he would respond with, “If you want photos, I’ll send them.”  He never did.

I then put together a 17-page, bulletproof document, I don’t know what the AG investigator did, but he worked his magic, and convinced Scott to refund us our deposit.

Lessons Learned

I don’t trust anyone anymore.  Well, it’s not that bad, but pretty close.  As soon as anyone – whom I’m paying for a job – starts to make me think they don’t have my best interests at heart, I fire them.  Whether that means firing Home Depot or firing Bob’s Insulation Service (there’s no way I’d ever use a service with such a name), I don’t put up with less than stellar business any more.  I just don’t have to.

My personal advice is to not do business with Slabtown Customs.  They have absolutely put out some products that made happy customers in the past, but that’s not the case presently.

I told Scott at the beginning of our communication that my main goal was to get this house built as quickly as possible.  I didn’t mind that there were internet rumors of his failure to deliver, as long as he didn’t waste my time.  He wasted exactly three months of my time, and I’m now building our tiny house by myself.

Aside

If anyone would like to see the 17-page document I put together in my defense (to get my deposit back), shoot me an email and I’ll give you the download link.  If you are personally having issues with Scott as a builder, I’d highly suggest you contact the Arkansas State Attorney General.

Comments

      • Tiny Dreamer says

        I read problem after problem with Slabtown … Clearly, no one should send this guy money … but … I have to keep REMINDING myself because his Tinies are BEAUTIFUL. I wish I could find someone who did this kind of work but had some integrity. Seems like everyone is just getting their money and doing it themselves. Has anyone found Tinies like Scott’s that are available? So incredibly disappointed that this isn’t someone I can do business with.

        • Wick says

          Yes there is a great carpenter just north pf Mountain View, AR or south of Calico Rock who will be biulding top quality tiny cabin like homes. No cutting corners. She’s a carpenter by trade built many homes has a good reputation in the surrounding counties. Has references. Can’t wait to see her first cabin/tiny. I’m sure she will build whatever you want or need.

          • April Perry says

            Can you let us know who this carpenter is?… So we can contact him or watch for his work?

          • C Hale says

            Can you please post who the builder is near calico rock. We also had many problems with Scott Stewart and I doubt we will ever get our mini house completed as agreed. He always has excuses for everything but rarely produces results!!! But somehow he received attention from Tiny House Nation , but of course they have no clue as to his deceptions!! Need name of the other carpenter please!!!

        • Jana Cash says

          This Casey Friday person is just bad mouthing somebody who was going thru a terrible time. Watching his father die of cancer, and taking care of his mother. Rough year. For Scott Stewart. But take note that he, Casey Friday is stealing Scott Syewarts ideas. Funny huh. Well, I have a friend that’s a carpenter that’s building Tiny Homes who IS a carpenter by trade and comes with many references. So, hopefully, soon they will be on the net. They will well and by somebody trustworthy who’s not started some blog about a persons business and then started building the same buildings.

          • Karen Lulay says

            Thanks Casey. I am a disabled lady,by myself. I also live in IL. I have seen some of his homes,on line,and just finished my plans and was going to send them to him to see what the price would be. I also thank you for putting this on line. He may have had a bad year,it does happen but until I read a lot of great things in the next year. I’m sure it could have all been settled if he would have just been honest.

        • Debbie cole says

          Also you might check into Tennessee Tiny Home, Joe Everson….have heard many good things about him and his work.

      • CJ says

        Did you not have a written contract with specifications including date promise, “time is of the essence”, etc.? If not this would likely have saved you a lot of extra work getting a refund. That said, I am glad you got a result in your favor. Am in the same market but now I will rethink this builder.

        • says

          We did have a written contract, but it didn’t have a completion date on it. We were duped by a scam artist, so it was partly our fault, but definitely not completely our fault.

  1. says

    I live in Arkansas and I was considering them as General Contractors to help with my build when it became ready for plumbing and electricity. THANKS SO MUCH for posting this. They will not be getting my business.

  2. Denny says

    Good job posting your experience which is not an islolated case. I too had a bad experience with scott. After giving him 1/2 down (6K) and waiting 6 months, I finally got the shell and finished it out with the help of a contractor. Never heard so many excuses and lies. Had to threaten with small claims court. Just glad it’s over.

  3. lilbadbrew says

    Hi,
    My husband & I also got duped by Scott Stewart.
    Below is our story, as we wrote to the Attorney General in June. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the results we hoped for. It is now December 2012. The attorney general’s office has told us that Mr. Stewart does not & has never responded to our complaint,. either by writing or phone,. he doesn’t answer their calls (no surprise) ,..

    As for the BBB, they email every other month or so to let us know that Mr. Stewart doesn’t respond to them either,. But get this!,.. About a month ago, I received an email from BBB stating that Scott had contacted them (finally), but only to do what he’s good at,..LIE! He told them our situation had been resolved, and wanted it erased from his record! He apparently didn’t know they would contact me first to see if it’s true, which I promptly made clear wasn’t. Just today I got yet another email from BBB stating once again, Mr. Stewart doesn’t respond to repeated attempts to contact, and as a result, our case will remain on their record.

    Once again, here is our story,..and also want to add, as you read the story, those last paypal payments (last one in May), were in fact, the last payments we ever got. From then on, all attempts to contact him have failed.

    One year ago, in June 2011, we contacted Scott Stewart of Slabtown Customs in Mountain View Arkansas, and contracted for a tiny home built for us. To begin our home, he required a down payment of $10,000 which we paid him at that time.
    Unfortunately, our experience was & still is, a nightmare!
    After being told by Scott our home would be built & delivered in 3-4 months, no home ever materialized,-even come January 2012, still no home. All this time, phone calls were rarely being answered or returned. When they were, it was the most amazing array of excuses we’ve ever heard,….too hot, too cold, too wet, he’s sick, his help is sick, he had to fire his help, house didn’t pass inspection, .(twice),.. he’s still sick,..ect ect.. Obviously, we became very worried we’d been scammed. We even got actual delivery dates from Scott, starting from about Nov-Dec (2011).

    Scott would tell us he’ll be ready to deliver our house on such & such date, (one or two weeks ahead). Then we would plan on that date & change our schedules to be available, and not only would he not show up, but there would be no calls either! When we would finally get in contact with him a few days later, it would be yet another excuse. The final straw for us came in January (2012) after another false ’delivery date’. When we made contact, Scott said when he went to pull our house out of his driveway for delivery, it fell apart and as a result, delivery would not be possible for at least another month. Scott offered our money back at that time, if we chose, which we did.

    Since then, it’s been a struggle to get our money back. The excuses keep coming, and evading phone calls he’s got down to a science. He did make a couple larger payments within a month or two, but then it dwindled down to paying $500 every few weeks. During this time, on the rare occasions he would answer the phone, he’d promise to mail a check right away, but no check would show up. Upon contact again, he’d blame the post office for losing it. We have gotten the ‘checks in the mail’ promise several times over the past 6 months. When we lost patience with him over the ‘lost check’ excuses, he suggested we accept a payment by paypal, which we agreed to. Between April 2nd — May 8th, we’ve received three payments into our paypal account from Scott. Since then, as is the case with the checks through the mail, the paypal payments he has promised have never shown up. Needless to say, here it is June 2012, and we still do not have all of our money back.

    This month (June), marks ONE YEAR since our nightmare with Scott Stewart began,..first, six months of begging for our house to materialize, and another 6 months of begging for our money back.

    I also want to add, there are several other people who are complaining of the same type of issues with Scott Stewart, I have found several complaints from folks on various tiny house blogs over the past few months. Before my husband & I contracted with Scott a year ago, we did not find any complaints against him at that time, so we had no reason to think it would turn out badly. But now, all you have to do is a google search & up pops several people with problems with Scott Stewart of Slabtown Customs.

    Please, can you help us?

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. Consumers need to be well-informed before jumping into a no-win scenario, and although there wasn’t information for you (or me and my wife) to guide us when we signed up for a Slabtown house, at least other people won’t fall prey to his methods that are no longer a secret.

  4. Steve Racz says

    Hi Casey,

    I noticed your post on TinyHouseTalk. Unfortunately Alex Pino has chosen to remove your comment, which is unfortunate. ( I received notification of your response before it was removed).

    I think you were being very mild mannered by suggesting that the buyer should ‘proceed with caution’ and you were providing useful feedback.

    What it appears like to me is that this company/person is not in a position to honor customer orders and there may be downright fraud as well. People should move on and consider other options.

    • says

      Hey Steve,

      I just took a look, and it appears my comment is still there. Thanks for the heads up, though! I hope I can help people avoid troubles with Slabtown by sharing my story here.

  5. norxgirl says

    OMG, don’t remember what Tiny House linked me to Slabtown Customs, but I fell in love with his designs. Thank you so much for posting your experience. I have had more than my fair share of bad contractor experiences (living in a money pit and being a landlord). Will definitely try to keep others alerted.

    • joe says

      Jana, it seems your a friend of Scott. After reading all the comments it seems the bad far out way the good, actually there really isn’t any “good”. My cousins friend is a contractor and lost both his parents within 2 months apart from each other. He was totally devastated and informed his clients the situation he was in. He stated that he was going to be 8 weeks behind and the customers understood. He held his word and notified the customers of his progress. That’s what you do when you have a business and people trust you. From the stories I’ve read, Scott was lying and buying time. It’s to bad, it seems like Scott is a very talented carpenter, but a real jerk when it comes time to be a business man. Hope he reads what the customers have said and Mans up

  6. Al says

    Casey, I have a few questions for you. You went forward and built it yourself. Can you share pictures of what you did, decisions that you made during construction that you might have changed now that you know more. Such as, I just bought a single bowl sink on Ebay to use as the sink in the kitchen, but I personally am not sure if that was a wise decision or not. I am trying to weigh all of the aspects of building a house that is going to be under 200 square feet and I feel that the areas of great concern should be the area that you are going to spend most of your time in. The great room might be that area and not the kitchen or the bathroom. But at the same time I know that these other areas must be functional. Al
    ( bornagain96022@yahoo.com)

    • says

      Hi Al,

      Check out the “Tiny House” category link at the top of my website. That shows all the progress I’ve made on the house up to this point with decisions and notes I’ve jotted down along the way.

      A lot of the decisions I’ve made (with my wife) were not planned before we started – they were made on the spot, once we got to certain parts of the build. That’s just the way it worked for us!

      -Casey

  7. Willy Pete says

    The state of Arkansas should be aware Slabtown is not paying it’s employees. A Mennonite friend recently quit because Scott refused to pay his back wages. As he Mennonite he refuses to take action against this criminal behavior.

    • Bob Linn says

      That’s not surprising. I talked to a guy that said he quit after 6 years because he never got a steady pay check.

  8. Bob Linn says

    Just got my Tiny Cabin from Scott Stewart. After 6 months of lies . This guy is the biggest Con artist I’ve ever met. Ar. attorney Generals office should shut him down. I don’t know how he looks in the mirror without feeling shame. Oh and I had a real carpenter look at his work and he told me this looks good now but give it a year and problems are going to start. If you want a good builder try Buddy Moyers. Mountain View Ar.

  9. Burgundy says

    Thanks for your story. I had been looking at slabtown home. I was ready to contact Scott. I can’t build my tiny house, I am up there in age and have a injury. Can you recommend a builder?

    • says

      No, I can’t recommend a builder, since I just decided to build it myself. If you like my house’s design, you could always buy it and have a contractor finish out the inside!

  10. says

    Casey,

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience with Scott Stewart and Slabtown Customs. I found this blog via a search for Slabtown Customs, so I imagine you have saved many, many people from a lot of stress, wasted time and financial loss. You’ve also given others with a similar experience a forum to share their stories about Scott Stewart. Thanks also for telling the whole story about the rest of your tiny house experience.

    Regards,
    Dan Evans

  11. Heather says

    I wondered why the Slabtown houses were so cheap. There are lots of factors that enable any business to undercut the competition (for example if you buy in bulk you get a discount and pass some of that onto your clients/customers )but it kind of sounds like Scott of Slabtown is running a Ponzi scheme. Maybe he just went through a bad patch, after all the financial crisis hit the building industry hard or maybe he’s a crappy businessman or both are true whatever the case I’m glad I’ve done a bit of research. I’m even more glad people are willing to share their experiences (good AND bad) so I can make an informed choice.
    Thanks! Heather

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